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Humpback whale probably dead after being hit by the ferry near Seattle



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9, 3:51 UTC

By Phil Helsel

The whale met a Seattle ferry on Tuesday It was thought to be a juvenile humpback whale that was unlikely to survive, As one official told the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The animal was hit by the Wenatchee Ferry about three minutes past 8:15 pm Run from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, west of the city. The ferry hit the whale, which was reported to have been about 1 to 2 meters in length in front of the ship in Elliott Bay.

The Wenatchee crew did not know that the ferry hit a whale until passengers alerted them. Gregory Faust, director of the state-owned ferry department, told reporters Wednesday.

Even if they had seen the whale, the ferry could not have stopped in time, said Faust. Washington State Ferries spokesman Dana Warr said, "It takes just over a minute for the ferry to reach a point in the water," said Faust. "And at 5 to 10 feet there is no chance to maneuver the ship at all." Faust described the strike as extremely rare and said that the department found no records of a whale or any other marine mammal hit by a state ferry. He said if the ferry system gets reports on whales in the region, the ferries will slow down, but "there were no reports of whales in the region yesterday."

"You are, you know, extremely repentant and feel terrible about the situation, as we all do," said Faust from the crew.

NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein said in an email on Wednesday that the whale was a juvenile humpback whale. A witness told NBC subsidiary KING of Seattle on Tuesday that they considered the whale a gray whale.

While Investigating the Incident "According to passengers, the strike is likely to be fatal," said Milstein

Faust said passengers had seen a whale surface in front of the ferry and a trail of blood behind the ship. There were no injuries aboard the ferry.

Washington state ferry Wenatchee cruises Seattle's Puget Sound on December 15, 2008. Since 2000, only two humpback whales have lived, according to Milstein.

Humpback whales are said to be between 80 and 90 years old and, according to the NOAA website, can reach a length of about 60 feet and weigh up to 40 tons.

] A population breeds on the Pacific coast of Central America, feeding on the west coast of the United States and southern British Columbia near Seattle, according to NOAA.

Humpback whales are susceptible to accidental ship strikes and the risk to marine mammals is much higher in coastal areas with heavy traffic, says the agency.

"It's such a strange event that this whale decides to break right in front of a ferry – it's just a million-a shot," said Faust.

The ferry system is investigating, but Faust said there was a maritime guard at that time, but he had not seen the whale.

The crew felt a "vibration" that can be felt when a ship hits a tree trunk, but when the crew was informed about the whaling, the ship was already on the way and continued its route, Faust said. The crew immediately reported the strike to the Coast Guard, the NOAA and the Operations Center.

"I do not know if they could have done anything else," he said of the crew.


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